This interesting and unusual name is of Medieval English origin, derived from the Old French pre 7th Century personal name 'Riulf', itself composed of the Germanic elements 'ric', meaning power, with 'wulf', wolf. Relph was first introduced into Britain in 1066 with the Norman Conquest and was fairly popular as a given name until the late 13th Century, (see below), for example Richolf de Gameltun (1210, Curia Rolls of Yorkshire), Riculfus (1212 ibid), Ricolfus filius Ailmini (1219 Curia Rolls of Sussex). The following example illustrates the name development after the below date, John Relf (1327 Subsidy Rolls Sussex) and the modern variants are Relf(e) and Realff. Amongst the sample recordings in London is the marriage between Ann Relph and William Goodrick on December 30th 1689, at St. Giles, Cripplegate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Reolf, which was dated 1296, Subsidy Rolls, Sussex, during the reign of King Edward 1, 'The Hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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